feature: jesse williams understands his “light-skinned” privilege & uses it to speak up

June 30, 2016

Ever since Jesse Williams stole the BET Awards with his incredibly profound and powerful acceptance speech (watch) for their 2016 Humanitarian Award, folks of the internet have raised some questions about light-skinned privilege playing a role in the virality of Williams’ speech and the willingness of the public to digest his revolutionary message. And Jesse agrees. “European beauty standards have given me a better seat at the table and the favor of the microphone over my darker brothers and sisters my entire life,” Williams said.

Williams has been one of the most consistent and outspoken “celebrity” activists since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter Movement, protesting alongside community activists, uncompromisingly representing the movement in media outlets, and regularly using social media as a platform for activism. He holds a double-degree in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts from Temple University.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.